Russian president Vladimir Putin denied Thursday in a meeting with international journalists that his government was behind the hacks in last year’s presidential election, the New York Times reports. But he left open the possibility that private Russian hackers, motivated by love of country, might have been responsible.
“Hackers are free people, just like artists who wake up in the morning in a good mood and start painting,” he said, according to a translation published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “Likewise, hackers get up in the morning and read the news about international affairs. If they feel patriotic, they try to make what they feel is a fair contribution to the struggle against those who speak ill of Russia.”
Security experts and U.S. intelligence agencies have long said election hacks here and abroad were the work of Russian intelligence, likely directed by Putin’s administration.